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Nothing Less than a Lie

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She knows they all thing that she just woke up gay one morning, that she just opened her eyes and wanted to have sex with girls. She knows that she gave that impression, maybe deliberately, because she wasn’t really sure when it all happened anyway, so she went a bit overboard, making sure that they all understood. That they got it. That temptation wasn’t an issue because she was gay.

Very, very gay.

What really happened was that she was lonely and hurting and Tara was warm and friendly and easy to be with and she sort of started falling for her. The same way she’d fallen for Oz, for knowing exactly what to say and when and for being what she needed at the time. And, when it had come down to the admitting of it, it had been easier to say she was gay than to explain that she loved Tara and everyone just needed to deal.

It never got hard though, which had always confused as much as relieved her. Xander seemed fine with it all most of the time. She wondered occasionally if it was simply because he’d never really loved her or if it was because he really loved Anya or if it was because he understood. Like she never really did about Cordelia. Maybe he got that you couldn’t pick who you loved, you just loved them.

Some times, when Tara was in her own room or just elsewhere, she would sit on the bed and thumb through her box of things that no one else was ever supposed to see. A broken yellow crayon, a headless Barbie doll, a dried, pressed carnation from Cotillion. There were scribbled notes in a language resembling English, but only if one knew how to read Xander’s writing and decipher his creative spelling. There were other things, other mementos, but it was the notes she’d read and smile and cry with, remembering the mixture of joy and pain every missive had given her in the throes of her crush.

When Xander and Anya got engaged, it only hurt slightly, far less than finding him kissing Cordelia had, nothing near what figuring out from his not-so-oblique offers of help that he had fucked Faith did. They were friends again, plain and simple. Nothing what they had been, but friends.

Then Tara had died and he’d saved the world.

Not that she’d cared about the world. She hadn’t cared about anything until he’d stood in front of her and laid his heart out to her and done something she thought he didn’t do anymore.

He loved her.

No one knows that they slept together that night. No one knows that their sex was wild and frenzied and painful and full of tears until he’d managed to kiss them all away and make love to her like she’d always dreamed. She’d been dead inside and he’d told her to find a spark in the darkness, fucked her until the friction lit the flame. He’d kissed every inch of her, whispered endearments that she didn’t believe, swore to her that he’d never leave her. She’d left before he’d awoken and never spoke of it again.

He’d asked her once about Kennedy, careful not to imply that it was anything more than it was – a warm body to remind her that she was alive, and she’d told him nothing more than the truth, nothing less than a lie. He’d nodded and walked away and they’d moved on.

The night before they’d destroyed Sunnydale, she’d taken her box out and burnt everything inside. She hadn’t looked at him as she brushed past him on her way to bed. She’d moved on and moved away, letting Kennedy guide her up the stairs. She’d felt his eye on her and the flame he’d lit sputtered slightly as she stumbled along in Kennedy’s wake.